High Strung – Film Review
From blowing audiences away with stories like Dirty Dancing to Step Up, although it surprises me, I suppose the genre of dance in cinema where two worlds collide, proves to be quite the profitable enterprise for movie makers to turn out.
Ruby (Keenan Kampa) is a classical dancer with natural talent and excellent skill. However, in order for her to continue studying at the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts under a scholarship, she also needs to master contemporary-style dancing. At the New York Subway, Ruby meets Johnnie (Nicholas Galitzine), a British street violinist who is facing possible deportation. Johnnie needs funding to employ legal assistance that can process his stay in the country. The pair decides to collaborate with a hip hop dance crew so that they can compete for a $25,000 prize. They must find common ground and create a music and dance routine that will win the judges’ vote.
Indeed, the story may not sound remotely original but once you get into it you eventually understand what it is we are all here for. High Strung creates an arena for its viewers to appreciate and be astounded by the painstaking yet captivating world of the artist. For any serious passion, hours of time and energy are sacrificed to give a commanding performance. The movie proves that though some artistic genres may be seen as shallower, hard work and perseverance are where artists across all genres and methods meet.
One key factor that really allows this point to come across is the stars of this film who are genuinely stellar performers. Kampa is one of a few Americans to have danced in the Russian ballet theatre. Russian ballet is no rose garden so you can expect a lot from Kampa’s performances. Her poise and grace is not lost at all in playing her role as Ruby. With Galitzine’s soulfulness on the violin, they are matched in skill and there is believable chemistry between them.
You can also expect some enjoyment from the other cast members, all whom are really fun characters, and their musical numbers are creative and energetic.
Michael Damian does a good job at directing, choosing angles and movement that best capture the way and mood of the routines. High Strung may have a played-out storyline, but the charm is enough to overlook that.